Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a direct sequel to 2010′s Naughty Bear. However, unlike that title, it’s a cheaper downloadable game instead of a more expensive retail disc. This is probably a wise decision, as the gameplay doesn’t have a large amount of depth. While this holds the game back a bit, what’s there is competent, and there is a surprising amount of content packed into it overall.
The intro cutscene briefly explains that Naughty Bear is angry at not being invited to the tropical resort his teddy bear friends are all vacationing at. From there, the game isn’t about plot or character – it’s all about the mayhem. The focus of the gameplay is a mixture of stealth and violent acts carried out against cuddly teddy bears. Naughty has various ways to take out his targets: He can make use of his bare fists, pick up items to use as melee weapons or traps (ranging from swords to rakes and even bottles of grape juice), or sneak up on an unsuspecting teddy. From there, he can choose to use environmental objects to slaughter the bear he’s holding in context-sensitive ways, or carry them into the bushes, and both one-hit kill them and steal their clothes as a disguise.
While the violence against bears is exaggerated and bloodless (with these being teddy bears, you’ll see more stuffing flying around than guts), it’s still gruesome enough that I do have to question the choice to only rate the game an E10+ on the ESRB scale. You can stick a bear’s tongue into a running lawnmower, throw them into fires, and impale them on bamboo sticks, among other methods. It’s comical but effectively brutal at the same time.
The game is spread across over 30 levels that center around individual bears as your main targets, each with certain conditions that must be fulfilled while killing them. These can include taking them out with a specific weapon, being in a certain location, or making use of a specific environmental object. Other optional side goals, such as killing a certain amount of other bears or obtaining a certain amount of money through the numerous destructible objects strewn across each level, also come into play.
Some of these levels are easier than others, and the harder ones mainly come down to experimenting a bit in a trial-and-error sort of way. The game isn’t especially challenging (though it is possible to be killed by other bears carrying weapons), but there will be some frustration the first time you play certain levels.
Where the game really starts to gain some substance is in the experience and unlockable systems. Successfully accomplishing any goals adds to your total level score, which translates into experience points for Naughty Bear. Once you level up, individual character aspects like health and strength are automatically upgraded. In addition, there are numerous clothes and accessories for the player to unlock, purchase and also level up to gain extra stat benefits. Clothes are initially obtained by stealing a fellow bear’s clothing and successfully clearing a level. Afterwards, they beccome available in Bear Wares, an in-game shop available in the menus between levels, and can be permanently purchased using the coins you find.
The fact that you can go back and replay levels to complete the goals you didn’t achieve the first time around is welcome, especially since you’ll also earn more experience and coins with each playthrough. It’s a nice incentive to perfect your playing skills and increase the game’s longevity. The game is also smart enough to incorporate features encouraging variety and creativity in your murderous methods, such as lowering the amount of points recieved each time you use the same method for a kill.
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise features graphic and sound facets that are serviceable, but never stand out as anything remarkable. The bears are appropriately cute and innocent-looking, and the environments are hardly sparse, but there’s little in the way of memorable background music. The eccentric narrator, who is the closest thing to a character with personality that the game has to offer, brings some decent humor to the briefings at the start of each mission.
This game is not a title that’s very well-suited for long sessions of play, simply because the gameplay becomes a case of being the same old thing with slight variations in terms of rules and environments over time. Thankfully, the controls are competent and the camera works fine most of the time, so what is there is fundamentally solid. There just isn’t a very rich variety of it.
Despite some flaws, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise can provide some decent fun, especially in seeing all of the over-the-top ways you can carry out kills. The original game got some heavy criticism for how simple it was despite being a retail title, so it was a smart move to make the sequel a cheaper experience cost-wise. If the Naughty Bear series continues, it would be smart for the developer to mix things up with future entries, but for what this is, there is some entertainment to be had.
This review is based on a copy of the game that was provided to us.